Virginia Army National Guardsman charged in US Capitol riot
By COREY DICKSTEIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 14, 2021
A Virginia Army National Guard soldier faces federal charges for participating in the siege last week of the U.S. Capitol that briefly delayed Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory, defense and Justice Department officials said Thursday.
Jacob Fracker, a corporal in the Virginia Guard, was arrested and charged Wednesday with one count of knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority and one count of violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, officials said. Charging documents state Fracker entered the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 amid an attack by some supporters of President Donald Trump and he confirmed he participated via social media posts.
Fracker is the first known service member to have been directly involved in the siege of the Capitol or charged in connection to it.
Fracker is an infantryman who serves in a traditional, part-time National Guard role, said Cotton Puryear, a spokesman for the Virginia Guard. He was not among the some 1,000 Virginia Guard troops activated to support security operations ahead of Biden’s Jan. 20 inauguration, Puryear said.
“The Virginia National Guard will conduct an investigation into the matter, and we will be able to release more information when that is complete,” Puryear said. He declined to provide additional information about Fracker’s Guard service.
In his civilian life, Fracker serves as a police officer in Rocky Mount, Va., according to the Justice Department. Rocky Mount is about 25 miles south of Roanoke. He previously served in the Marine Corps and deployed to Afghanistan, a defense official said Thursday.
Fracker is one of two members of the Rocky Mount Police Department charged for entering the Capitol on Jan. 6. He and Thomas Robertson have been placed on administrative leave, according to the police department. Both were off duty on Jan. 6, the Justice Department said.
The two men were photographed inside the Capitol “making an obscene gesture in front of the John Stark statue,” according to charging documents. The photo shows the two men raising their middle fingers in Statuary Hall in front of a statues of Stark, an American general during the Revolutionary War.
Robertson is an Army veteran who was injured while deployed to Afghanistan, according to a 2011 profile of him in the Franklin News-Post.
He was charged this week with the same crimes as Fracker.
The Justice Department said both men posted about their involvement in the riot on social media.
Fracker wrote in a Facebook post: “Lol to anyone who’s possibly concerned about the picture of me going around... Sorry I hate freedom? …Not like I did anything illegal…y’all do what you feel you need to.”
The post has since been deleted, according to the Justice Department documents.
Charging documents state Robertson wrote in his own post on Facebook: “CNN and the Left are just mad because we actually attacked the government who is the problem and not some random small business ... The right IN ONE DAY took the f***** U.S. Capitol.”
Like Fracker, Robertson claimed he broke no laws on Jan. 6, according to the Justice Department. He also claimed he had been escorted into the Capitol by Capitol police officers, according to the Justice Department documents.
Fracker and Robertson are the latest military veterans known to have participated in the Jan. 6 events. The Pentagon on Thursday declined to comment on the participation of current or former service members, citing ongoing investigations by the Justice Department.
Other veterans charged include retired Air Force Lt. Col. Larry Rendall Brock Jr., a former A-10 pilot photographed carrying zip-tie handcuffs in the Senate chamber, and Jacob Anthony Chansley, who goes by Jake Angeli and is known as the "QAnon Shaman," among followers of the far-right conspiracy theory. Chansley, who was photographed inside the Capitol shirtless and wearing a horned headdress, served in the Navy from September 2005 to October 2007, according to his service records.
An Air Force veteran, Ashli Babbitt, who supported Trump and the QAnon conspiracy on her social media pages, was shot to death inside the Capitol by law enforcement during the riot.
A former Navy SEAL, Adam Newbold, has been questioned by the FBI after posting a video on social media last week describing “breaching the Capitol.”
The Army is investigating a Fort Bragg, N.C.-based captain, Emily Rainey, who admitted attending the rally before the violent attack on the Capitol. She told The Associated Press this week that she did not enter the building or break any laws or Army regulations.
Rainey is set to leave the Army in April after resigning her commission last year over a prior infraction. She is the only known active-duty service member under investigation in connection with the Jan. 6 events.
In a statement to the Roanoke Times this week, Fracker said his participation on Jan. 6 was an “expression of grief against what very many Americans would consider tyranny.”
“My entire adult life has been dedicated to protecting my fellow Americans,” he said, according to the newspaper. “I’ve never once cared about skin color, religion, political views, sexual orientation or anything. Americans are Americans, we bleed the same.”